South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Keener returns to borough council, pavement program being finalized


Last updated 2/22/2016 at 5:33pm

Mayor James Cassidy was busy at the Feb. 15 Mt. Oliver council meeting as he swore in a new council member and two new part-time police officers.

Council voted to appoint former council member Barbara Keener to fill the vacant seat created by the resignation last month of Frank Bernardini.

Ms. Keener is a retired Pittsburgh Public School high school teacher and a lifelong borough resident. She served on council 2013-2015.

Council also voted unanimously to hire Anna Jandric and Ryan Tranter as part-time police officers. Brian Prunty was promoted to full-time police officer, in accordance with Civil Service rules and regulations.

In his January police report, the mayor said there were 378 total calls; 29 narcotics arrests; two DUI arrests; 17 domestics; three criminal mischiefs; and one burglary. The police served 8 arrest warrants. The K-9 units were used 15 times.

The mayor said the drug arrests occurred throughout the borough, with many at traffic stops.

All police equipment is up and running. All training is up-to-date.

In the engineer’s report read by council President Amber McGough, Gateway Engineers is working with the borough manager to finalize the project scope for the 2016 pavement maintenance program.

Gateway is also preparing a flow monitoring plan to comply with the requirements of the new consent order.

The borough received the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the handicapped ramps on Brownsville Rd. The engineers are working with the contractor and borough to finalize documents.

Gateway is in the process of preparing plans and specifications for the replacement of the remaining sidewalk in the 100 and 200 blocks of Brownsville Rd.

Council then voted 6-1 to approve payment No. 1 to R&B Construction and Excavating for $58,738.50 for the Brownsville Rd. ADA handicap ramp project.

Councilman Nick Viglione dissented because the final amount is $22,000 over the bid amount. He said he wanted an explanation from the company or engineers as the higher cost was never approved by council.

In the code enforcement report from inspector Chuck Knaus for Jan. 8 to Feb. 4, Councilman David Beltz reported there were 11 violation notices; 25 citations; 29 rental inspections; one occupancy permit issued; and three legal complaints.

Mr. Beltz said he, Mr. Knaus, and borough manager Ricky Hopkinson met on Feb. 11. Mr. Knaus talked Mr. Beltz through his daily routine, and answered questions.

When asked for suggestions, Mr. Knaus said a better property maintenance code for dealing with shrubbery would be beneficial. Currently, the only category is “high grass.”

Mr. Beltz said he would look into the matter.

Next, council adopted an ordinance establishing prohibitions for parking on yellow lines.

To a question of what if a resident paints the yellow lines, police Chief Matthew Juzwick said it is not legal, and that the police can tell by the color shade if it is authentic.

In the question-and-answer session, an attendee asked about the borough’s plan for abandoned houses. He said the porch on a house on Elizabeth St. looks like it is ready to fall.

Mr. Hopkinson said the borough is trying to demolish five to six buildings a year with the worst public safety hazards.

Solicitor Deron Gabriel said the CDBG program is becoming more stringent, and may not support as many demolitions next year.

Mr. Hopkinson said he would like to look outside the CDBG funds for demolitions.

In the solicitor’s report, council voted to accept the donation to the borough of 129 Frederick St.

Mr. Hopkinson said, in the short term, the lot could be a parklet, garden, or other passive greenspace.

In the long term, the borough hopes to sell the lot to an adjacent property owner for use as a side yard, or it could be a site for infill housing.

Either way, the borough opted to accept the donation to proactively combat blight in the community.

In announcements, the Mt. Oliver real estate tax bills will be mailed out in early March. The tax payment due dates are: April 30, discount; June 30, face; and July 1, penalty.

The next council meeting will be on March 21.


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